Also known as span of control is a very important concept plan management functions. It refers to the number of subordinates who can be treated effectively with a superior organization. It represents how communications are planned between superior and subordinates in companies.
Span management is usually categorized under two heads- Narrow span and Wide span. Narrow Span management means a single manager or head oversees few subordinates. This gives rise to high structure. However, a wide span of management means a single manager or head oversees a number of subordinates. This gives rise to a flat structure structure.There is an inverse relationship between the span and the number of management levels in the organization, ie narrow span of management, a greater number of levels in the organization.
Narrow span management is more expensive compared to the wide span of management as there are a larger number of officers / managers and the more communication issues between different levels of management there. The less geographically dispersed subordinates are, the better it is to have a wide span of management as it would be possible for managers to stay in touch with the people and show them how to efficiently perform a task. If the narrow span of management, there are relatively more growth opportunities for subordinated as the number of levels is more.
The efficient and organized management is to fulfill its tasks, the better it is to have a wide span of management for such organizations. The less capable, motivated and confident employees are, the better it is to have a narrow span of management so that managers can spend time with them and monitor them carefully. The more standardized nature of projects, ie, if the same task can be performed using the same input, the better it is to have a wide span of management and more number of subordinates can manage one better. There is more flexibility, quick decision-making, effective communication between top-level and low-level management and better communication with customers in the case of wide span management. Technology advances such as mobile phone, mail, etc. makes it possible for officers to increase the span of control that it’s more effective communication.
optimal / ideal span of control according to modern authors is fifteen to twenty subordinates the manager, according to the traditional authors the ideal number is the six men on manager. But in reality, an ideal span of control depends on the nature of the organization, skills and abilities manager, staff skills and abilities, the nature of work, the communication needs between superior and subordinates.